Moving Forward Through Forgiveness
Reflecting on the healing and restoration of forgiveness through the lens of Ephesians 4.
We all know the pain that comes from being wronged by someone we love. A relational line has been crossed; wounds have been inflicted by someone we thought we could trust. In the aftermath of a wrong, we are often left with the question of how to move forward. How do we address the rift between loved ones? Can we re-establish trust?
For the injured party, it can feel tempting to sit in rage. We may feel inclined to hold on to indignation and betrayal. The desire for revenge can seem alluring even when we recognize, deep down, that it will not heal our hearts.
If we are the wrongdoers, we may feel permanently tarnished; overcome not only with guilt but also shame. Records of our mistakes ring loudly in our ears until they feel like the only thing that defines us.
Our wounds can feel permanent and inescapable. But in truth, healing is possible.
“2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” (Ephesians 4:2-4)
Healing comes through forgiveness. To forgive is not to ignore the reality of pain or wrongdoing. Quite the opposite, forgiveness is wound care. It is the cleaning and bandaging of our emotional injuries. When we forgive, we work to address the harm that has been done; we kickstart the process of healing. Much like cleaning a physical wound, this process can be uncomfortable at first. But to refuse to forgive is to further hurt ourselves as much as the one who did us wrong. It is to allow our wounds to fester and grow infected.
“31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
When we forgive we work towards restoration. We are reminded of the One who first forgave us. Our Creator sees us, sees our biggest and most grievous mistakes, and loves us still. Our God forgives. Even in the midst of tremendous personal suffering, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
We have been forgiven. There is no mistake we can make that God will not work to heal. Our errors do not define us; we are defined by Jesus’ love for us. Ephesians 4 urges us towards unity because we are, all of us, unified by the love and forgiveness we have received from God.
“We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.” (Psalm 65:2-3)
Healing does not happen overnight. Even the most carefully treated injuries can leave a scar. But we can take comfort that the pain of the present moment will not be everlasting. We can forge a new way forward through forgiveness. We can enter into the loving work Jesus invites us to and find restoration. Amen.
Words: Emma Tweitmann
Images: Evie Shaffer